Forrester Blogs For Business Technology Professionals
This is a roll-up of all Forrester blogs written for Business Technology Professionals. Role-specific blogs are listed below. Visit Forrester.com to learn how we make Business Technology Professionals successful every day.
Business’s drive for innovation and competitiveness continues unabated
The role of today’s Infrastructure and Operations professionals (I&O pros) has changed. The traditional role of surveying the technology market, predicting the future, selecting technologies to support the business and delivering those technologies efficiently and effectively was hard enough. Today’s I&O pros are being asked to improve the innovativeness and competitiveness of the business while creating an infrastructure that allows end-users to bring their own technologies within a secure, reliable, compliant, and manageable environment. Communications and Collaboration Infrastructure (CCI) can be deployed to drive improvements in communication between employees, supporting innovation focused on driving business results.
An increasingly mobile and distributed workforce demands improved collaboration
As more employees work away from a ‘traditional’ office (27% of workers spend at least 2 days a week away from their primary office location according to the Q2 2013 Forrsights Workforce Survey) and use multiple devices (over half of information workers use three or more devices for work according to the Q2 2013 Forrsights Workforce Survey) complicates the I&O pros job of connecting them. Traditional telephones and e-mail accounts aren't enough in today’s fast-paced business environment, new collaboration platforms from document repositories and web conferencing services to video conferencing and enterprise social software help to connect employees and partners to drive innovation by enabling the firm to tap the accumulated wisdom of all their assets
Over the past 12 months, I’ve taken a number of client inquiries on globalization and multilingual strategies. But in all cases, it turned out that the challenge wasn’t really providing multilingual support. Instead, organizations are struggling to meet demand among customers, suppliers, partners, regulators and others for direct access to core enterprise systems from multiple regions, often through mobile devices or pervasive web applications. So the real question is: How are user engagement strategies affecting our ability to achieve a single, global business and technology platform that supports the increasingly pervasive use of mobile technologies?
This is now a top-of-mind consideration for many companies, especially as emerging markets are an increasingly important part of their global business strategies. The challenge is how best to tailor and adapt their products and services to capitalize on these emerging market opportunities without losing the benefits of economies of scale and the requirements for global transparency and compliance. And it’s not just about global IT service delivery; it’s about how technology can now serve the unique needs of both internal and external users, particularly where major differences may exist across language, culture, law, infrastructure, geography, value systems, and the economy.
I recently spoke with Tim Tuttle, the CEO of Expect Labs, a company that operates at the vanguard of two computing categories: Voice recognition (a field populated by established vendors like Nuance Communications, Apple, and Google) and what we can call the Intelligent Assistant space (which is probably most popularly demonstrated by IBM’s “Jeopardy”-winning Watson). In their own words, Expect Labs leverages “language understanding, speech analysis, and statistical search” technologies to create digital assistant solutions.
Expect Labs built the application MindMeld to make the conversations people have with one another "easier and more productive” by integrating voice recognition with an intelligent assistant on an intuitive tablet application. They have coined the term “Anticipatory Computing Engine” to describe their solution, which offers users a new kind of collaboration environment. (Expect Labs aims to provide an entire platform for this type of computing).
To evaluate public cloud platforms, you have to look at the breadth of cloud services developers use, which means including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Windows Azure, and salesforce.com’s Heroku in the same comparison.
That’s right — there’s a mix of IaaS and PaaS products in our evaluation. Why? Our job is to help AD&D leaders select the right platform for their public cloud deployments. Developers seek utility where they can find it. Thus, the most widely used public cloud platform in our surveys is not a PaaS, but rather AWS, which is commonly labeled an IaaS.
Public cloud platforms unlock the flexibility, productivity, and economic advantages of cloud computing. Our just-published Forrester Wave™ on enterprise public cloud platforms evaluates the 14 leading providers of platforms for the enterprise. We included AWS, CloudBees, Cordys, Engine Yard, GoGrid, Google, IBM, Mendix, Microsoft, MioSoft, Rackspace, salesforce.com, SoftLayer, and Verizon Terremark in the evaluation.
In conducting this research, we learned that cloud platforms don’t fit into neat product categories. AWS is much more than an IaaS; Microsoft and Google now provide both PaaS and IaaS products. This finding (previewed in this blog) is vital to helping AD&D leaders sort through a veritable explosion of new products labeled “PaaS”.
David Aponovich and I recently published a Forrester Wave™ on web content management for digital customer experience. In this videocast, David and I talk about how we did the research that went into the report, how the market has evolved since the last version of the report, the biggest surprises from our findings, and highlights (and lowlights) from customer references for the evaluated products.
I recently analyzed 60 companies in India to understand the CIO reporting structure and the key projects that these organizations are focused on. Some interesting findings from this exercise:
Currently, 40% of Indian CIOs or top IT executives report to CEOs or the senior-most person (president, managing director, etc.) in their organization. Among the other 60%, most report to CFOs (35%), followed by COOs, group CIOs, and chief sales officers.
CIOs who report to CEOs tend to have a 30% higher IT budget than CIOs who report to CFOs, COOs, or group CIOs.
Projects led by CIOs not reporting directly to the CEO focus primarily on reducing IT costs and aligning IT to the business; these projects are typically measured in terms of cost savings.
Projects led by CIOs reporting directly to the CEO are more likely to focus on customer acquisition and retention and measured more in terms of business outcomes for the organization.
When Samsung made its move to install 1,400 store-within-a-store concepts at Best Buy back in April, we recommended that Microsoft take note. And take note, it did: Today Microsoft and Best Buy announced the launch of a new Windows Store at 500 Best Buy locations in the United States and another 100 in Canada, for a total of 600 in North America.
Instead of a store-within-a-store concept (which both Apple and Samsung now employ at Best Buy), the Windows Store represents a complete take-over of the PC department. Windows Stores will effectively replace the computer department at these 600 Best Buy locations. But they will offer a wider range of Microsoft consumer products (PCs, tablets, and accessories, of course, but also Office, Windows Phone, and even Xbox) than just PCs.
Microsoft’s Windows Store represents a vital strategic step forward in its retail strategy and ought to yield some benefits. At the same time, the move should have happened several years ago; it isn’t quite as ambitious as it might have been, and Microsoft will have to work hard to overcome legacy practices within the Best Buy ecosystem.
Why is this move essential for Microsoft? Put simply, the non-Apple Store North American retail channel for consumer electronics is broken … and it’s getting more broken:
Social media platforms like Facebook and Google+ are fast becoming a big topic for business. Consumers are embracing these communication and collaboration channels for more than just sharing holiday memories. Most of us also expect to use these collaboration channels increasingly in our work environments to improve the information flow. We want to communicate at work as we are used to communicating when off work – with or without the consent of our employers. Communication culture is part of business culture and work flexibility and as such impacts any business’ endeavor to attract and retain creative talent.
For IT and business leaders, these social dynamics bring their own opportunities and challenges, as social media communication:
Provides an innovative and attractively priced communication infrastructure.Top management and business line managers alike increasingly recognize that social media forms a fundamental channel for informal communications. Social media offers cost effective collaboration and communication channels.
Opens collaboration channels for supplier relationships. Large businesses do not collaborate with large companies only but also with smaller ones – and vice versa. Large enterprises interact with small suppliers or smaller customers that increasingly use social media collaboration solutions.
Morphs into collaboration ecosystems.The emerging communication and collaboration solutions are based on the convergence of services (like document collaboration) by one provider, with communication and collaboration solutions (like voice, screen sharing, and instant messaging) from another provider in a partnership-type model.
Ten days ago, three of us traveled to Japan for a Fujitsu analyst day held in conjunction with the firm’s huge customer event – the Fujitsu Forum. The analyst day was a follow-on from the firm’s European event last fall. At the two events, the management team, led by Masami Yamamoto, president and representative director, and Rod Vawdrey, the president of Fujitsu’s International Business, talked about the organization’s vision and key imperatives:
Creating a common vision around “Human-Centric Intelligent Society.” Management highlighted publishing the firm’s global vision document. Speakers repeatedly pointed toward Fujitsu’s new “human-centric” vision for how information technology improves business, personal, and societal outcomes. Fujitsu is positioning itself as a provider of solutions aimed at facilitating the activities of consumers and businesses, combining elements of its hardware, software, and services portfolio.